The New Jersey Attorney General's Office and the State Police have teamed up to launch a new mentoring program for middle school students. Twenty-three eighth-graders will each be paired up with a New Jersey state trooper - for the next five years.

(Jamie Squire, Getty Images)

"This is a groundbreaking program that combines education and mentoring for young people who are interested in the State Police," said New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman.

He pointed out each mentor will spend time with their student at least twice a month.

"They're going to get together and meet with them, talk about life skills, talk about achievement, accomplishment, discipline," he said. "And there's an education component too in which we're going to help with these children's education, and we're going to help to educate them in what it's like to be a trooper."

Hoffman also said the students will "learn how to motivate themselves, they'll learn discipline, they'll learn focus, they'll learn all of the things that will really make them successful."

During the first year of the program, students from Trenton, Newark and Buena will participate, but Hoffman said other schools in other towns and cities will join the program in the future.

He said another benefit of the program will be to change the perception of the State Police.

"We're not only trying to give them a different perspective than they've had growing up," Hoffman said. "We're trying to give their families a different perspective, we're trying to give their support networks a different perspective. It is a great program and we're very, very confident that it will work, and it will work for everybody, it will work for the state police and the youths that are involved with it, we're really looking forward to it."

Zion Johnson of Trenton said he loves state troopers, and he's thrilled to part of the program.

"It's great being around the officers, meeting new people, it's a good career job, you make lots of money and you get a lot of respect," he said. "It's like we're going to bond for the next couple of years, it's like we're going to become best friends, brothers almost."